When California schools call cops for small infractions it disproportionately hurts minority students, civil rights study finds
Many California school districts offer their staff little or no guidance on when police should be called to control student behavior, according to a new study that comes as districts face increased pressure to redefine law enforcement’s role in public schools.
The report, released Wednesday by the American Civil Liberties Union, analyzed law enforcement policies of 119 California school districts, including 50 of its most populous. It found that more than half of the districts — large and small — gave their staff broad discretion to summon police officers for small infractions, bullying and disrupting lessons.
After the police are called in (most districts don’t permanently station officers in their schools), many districts do little to shield their students from potential consequences, the study found. Of those analyzed, about 98% don’t require parental notification before a student is interviewed by police and about 99% don’t mandate that officers advise students who haven’t yet been arrested of their constitutional rights, including the right to remain silent.
The result, according to the study’s authors, is that school administrators often outsource what used to be routine, in-school discipline to police officers. And when they do, the effects are disproportionately harsh for poor, minority and disabled students, who are more likely to be arrested than their peers.
During the 2013-14 school year, 9,540 school-related arrests were made in California, according to the study. Black students were three times as likely as white students to be charged with an offense.
“Too often, school staff call the police to have them handle a situation that makes a student end up having to go to court or get a fine,” said ACLU staff attorney Victor Leung. “Really, they should have no discretion — the rule should be that they handle this minor rule-breaking with their own staff.”
In California, 19 school districts have their own police forces, ranging in size from four officers in Apple Valley Unified to 410 sworn officers and 101 school safety officers in Los Angeles. Most districts have memorandums of understanding with local law enforcement, but many of these documents contain “deficient, vague, or even non-existent policies,” according to the report.
The worst offenders, Leung said, are the 33% of school districts that require staff to report low-level offenses such as vandalism or graffiti to the police. Although these may sound When California schools call cops for small infractions it disproportionately hurts minority students, civil rights study finds - LA Times: